John 19:14 seems to indicate that Jesus had been arrested, and brought before the priests, and then Pilate, and was then being sent for crucifixion on the day of preparation for the Passover.

Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Look, your King!” (John 19:14, NASB)

But Mark 14:12 seems to indicate that Jesus had not even been arrested by the time the Passover lamb was being killed. Which is as I understand it is during twilight at the end of the day of the preparation for the Passover.

12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” (Mark 14:12, NASB)

Is there an interpretation in which these two verses are not contradictory? And if so, what is it?

  • 1
    Based on Leviticus 23:5-14, Mark 14:12-26 appears to observe Torah laws (on the 15th of Aviv). - - Instead of the revised account of John 19:14 which changes the events in order to make Jesus’ sacrifice symbolic of the Lord’s Passover from Leviticus 23:5. - clever alteration of timelines in John’s Gospel removes Jesus’ attempt at observing Torah in Mark’s Gospel. Dec 17, 2020 at 3:43
  • @ חִידָה If I have understood you correctly you do think that the Mark and John accounts are contradictory, and you think that it is the John account that has been changed.
    – Glenn
    Dec 18, 2020 at 2:55
  • * Where is the Shema (שְׁמַ֖ע) in John's Gospel? - Notice how important the Shema is to Jesus in : [ Mark 12:29-30, Matthew 22:37-38, Luke 10:27 ] - * But in John's Gospel, Jesus disregards the Shema. - * Notice [John 13:34] claims Jesus offered a "new" (καινὴν) "commandment" (Ἐντολὴν) - contrary to the synoptic gospels which give credit to [Leviticus 19:18]. - John's Gospel as a later 'more correct' reflection of Jesus' authoritative teachings, greater miracles (Lazarus' resurrection) & 3-year ministry (instead of 1-year ministry) Dec 18, 2020 at 14:23
  • @חִידָה Thanks for your feedback. "Hear, Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one" only appears in Mark, and the commandments referred to in Mark 12:29-30, Matthew 22:37-38, and Luke 10:27 are previous commandments, but the commandment in John 13:14 is not. It is different to the Leviticus 19:18 commandment. I assume you are highlighting differences to support the idea that it is the John account that has been changed.
    – Glenn
    Dec 20, 2020 at 18:59
  • 1
    @חִידָה Thanks again for your response. I don't know whether you have seen the answer given by Olde English below ("Time of Jesus' crucifixion in relation to the Passover"). Olde English agrees that the verses aren't compatible, but suggests that it is the Mark 14:12 verse that is wrong, based on the idea of a 33AD crucifixion date. I assume you disagree with that crucifixion date.
    – Glenn
    Dec 21, 2020 at 18:30

5 Answers 5


Does it relate to Exodus 12:15

15 For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove dough with yeast from your houses; for whoever eats anything with yeast from the first day until the seventh day, that [a]person shall be cut off from Israel.

where the preparation day seems to be considered the first day, and involve the idea that in Mark 14:12, it is not indicating that the events were simultaneous to the time the lamb was being killed, but rather indicating that it was on that day, the preparation day that the lamb was being killed? Such that the events described were taking place early on the preparation day.

  • 1
    Not sure first day can be the 14th. As Lev. 23:6-7 seems to make the 15th the first day. I would not be surprised if the tradition of removing dough with yeast on the 14th, is in some part to provide a behaviour compatible with both Ex.12:15 and Lev.23:17. It isn't compulsory in Ex.12:15 to have dough with yeast in your house. By getting rid of it the day before, there is no work to do regarding that, and therefore no conflict with the Lev.23:7 command to do no laborious work. Plus it stops any being inadvertently eaten during the first day.
    – Glenn
    Dec 18, 2020 at 3:10

A literal translation from Greek is something like: It was Passover's preparation (day). There are two ways of understanding the Greek genitive as the BDAG dictionary suggests: παρασκευὴ τοῦ πάσχα day of preparation for the Passover (or Friday of Passover Week). The day called paraskeuē is only used in the NT to designate a Friday, the day before the Sabbath. It occurs 6 times in the NT, 3 of them in John. It is even explained in Mark 15:42: "it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath"(KJV). By the time John wrote it had become a fixed expression for Friday, and it is still used in Modern Greek for Friday. It is to my knowledge never used as the day before a festival. Hovewer the Jews could talk about the "eve" of the Sabbath as well as the "eve" of a festival. This is probably the background for the suggestion that the Greek paraskeuē could also refer to the eve of the Passover. The word pascha has several different senses depending on context. It can refer to the Passover lamb slaughtered on Nisan 14, the Passover meal, celebrated after sunset on Nisan 14 (the beginning of Nisan 15) and the weeklong Passover festival. Originally, the Passover was only one day, Nisan 14, followed by the 7 days of Unleavened Bread, but we see in the NT that the two had merged, so pascha could refer to both festivals as a unit. Since Nisan 14 would fall on different weekdays, there would always be a Sabbath somewhere within the Passover week. It is therefore likely that the correct understanding here is that it refers to the Friday within the Passover week. This agrees with the fact that Jesus was crucified on a Friday, and in this verse in John, Jesus stands accused in the early morning before Pilate. It also allows for Jesus having celebrated the Passover meal like most other Jews the evening before, Thursday evening. Another question is whether the "sixth hour" is by normal everyday and Jewish counting of hours, meaning at noon, or by the Roman counting sometimes used in historical and official records, meaning 6 a.m. Alfred Edersheim (THe Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah) and other scholars have in my view convincingly shown that John uses Roman time in all the 4 places in the gospel where he specifies a time of day. We ned to remmber that John wrote in a Greek-Roman environment long after the fall of Jerusalem. It would be too much here to go into all the arguments about this controversial issue, but anyone interested might search for "When was Jesus Crucified" where I say a lot more about this. (https://www.academia.edu/37253590/When_was_Jesus_crucified)

  • Thanks for the response. You suggest that the 14th perhaps became known as the preparation day of the Passover because it was the "eve" of the festival. Ignoring that it was/is the traditional preparation day for the Passover. You wrote "The day called paraskeuē is only used in the NT to designate a Friday, the day before the Sabbath", but that seems to assume your conclusion that it didn't refer to 14th Nisan. What evidence is there for the statement "by the time John wrote it had become a fixed expression for Friday"?
    – Glenn
    Dec 20, 2020 at 19:05
  • I was further wondering what your understanding was of the John 19:31 report that the following sabbath was a "high day"?
    – Glenn
    Dec 20, 2020 at 19:11
  • I am not suggesting that the 14th became known as the preparation day because it was the eve of the festival. The Greek expression is never used for the eve of a festival, only the eve of a Sabbath (a Friday). However, there is a Hebrew and Aramaic expression which is similar and means the eve of Sabbath/festival. This was used to translate the Greek into Aramiac. When that Sabbath was called great, I assume it was because it fell within a weeklong holiday period, so it was both a full Sabbath holiday and a half holiday in a holiday week. There were two things to celebrate in one day. Dec 21, 2020 at 7:33
  • thanks again for your response. Not sure what you mean by a half holiday. As I understand it the first and seventh days of the Feast of Unleaven Bread are sabbaths, and there is no respite from work on the other days of the feast. Do you accept that the Passover has a traditional preparation day, and that day is the day before the first day of the Feast of Unleaven Bread?
    – Glenn
    Dec 21, 2020 at 17:41
  • 1
    Thanks. I did take the tour rather quickly, but I did not find instructions for formatting. I am learning slowly. This was my first attempt. Dec 22, 2020 at 10:49

The expression "the Passover lamb was being sacrificed" is unique to the NASB translation. Others say "when they sacrificed the Passover lamb" or "when they killed the Passover lamb".

Mark was writing to a Roman audience, whose knowledge of Judaism would be limited to the more obvious and blatant activities associated with it. From a public perspective, the time of Passover would be known as the time of year when the Jews killed an unusually large number of lambs, all on one day. Everything else associated with Passover happens indoors, where it wouldn't become general knowledge among the Romans.

Mark could be using the phrase "when they killed the passover lamb" to remind the Roman people of what Passover was. Today, it would be similar to speaking to a Hindu audience and saying "Christmas, when they decorate evergreen trees" to remind them of when Christians make a big public display of the season. There is no intended implication that the tree decorating was done specifically on Christmas day itself.

Now consider Mark 6:11:

… It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment …

or Acts 2:20:

… that great and notable day of the Lord …

In these cases, "day" isn't necessarily a single 24 hour period. It could mean "time of judgment", "age of judgment", "period of judgement", etc.

Similarly, "day of unleavened bread" could refer to that time of year, the Passover season, not to a specific day.

So Mark 14:12 could be read as: "at the beginning of the festival of unleavened bread (when Jews kill the lambs) …".

John wrote his gospel well after the others, and was writing for a larger more general audience. His details and timing are more precise (e.g. he points out that the day of preparation was for a high sabbath, not the weekly sabbath, a detail the others omit), perhaps in response to the vagueness and confusing ambiguity of the other three.

In general, rather than playing with the first three gospels and then finding that the conclusion conflicts with what John says, it's better to use John as the basis for the timing of events, and to then see how the other gospels fit in with his details, keeping in mind the intended audiences of each of the first three gospels (Jews, Romans, and Greeks).

  • @ Ray Butterworth - Thank you for that perspective. The commencement of the festival of UB is so confusing, I guess because of it's vagueness and confusing ambiguity. Those three gospels had me going back and forth like you wouldn't believe. I'm therefore with you on John. I think that you maybe quoted the wrong scripture with regard to Sodom and Gamorrah however. Your answer is also somewhat limited in it's scope but appreciated never the less, at least by me. Dec 24, 2020 at 23:10
  • @ Ray Butterworth - Are suggesting that "the first day of the feast of unleavened bread" did not actually mean the first day of that seven day festival? If so are you suggesting that a Jewish author would have described some other day as the "first day of the feast of unleavened bread"?
    – Glenn
    Dec 27, 2020 at 17:06
  • @Glenn, I'm suggesting that πρῶτος (protos) could be translated as "beginning" rather than "first", as it is in 2Peter 2:20 (KJV: "…the latter end is worse with them than the beginning" — NIV: "…they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning"). Note that I'm saying "could", not necessarily "should", but things fit together more nicely if is. Dec 27, 2020 at 19:00
  • @ Ray Butterworth - Sorry I was being a bit slow, thank you that does help. So in Luke 22:14-15 Jesus and his followers were not eating the Passover meal that he had instructed his followers to prepare for in verse 8?
    – Glenn
    Dec 27, 2020 at 20:12
  • @Glenn, as I (and some denominations) understand it, the Last Supper took place a day before the ceremonial Passover Meal. Remember, when Jesus was crucified the next day, it was still the Day of Preparation and he was killed at the same time as the lambs were being sacrificed for that official Passover meal. Dec 27, 2020 at 21:07

Great question! This made me scratch my head too.

Let me share my personal understanding, if you keep reading, you'll see what happened next in a later verse:

Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, 
that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath 
(for that Sabbath was a high day), 
the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, 
and that they might be taken away.

(John 19:31 - NKJV)

It was clearly stated that this is the preparation day before Sabbath. Now with verse 14, (https://www.biblestudytools.com/john/19-14-compare.html):

  • there are 17 versions translating it as "preparation of the passover"
  • there are 9 versions translating it as "preparation for the passover".

Personally it's convincing to me that this verse is referring to:

the Preparation Day of Sabbath during the Passover Week.

I by no means am claiming to have the truth here but let's pray for understanding and continuously grow spiritually by meditating the Word of God.

  • Hi Daniel Deng, welcome to Stack Exchange, we are glad you are here. Good insight. Please be sure to take the site tour and read up on how this site is a little different than other sites around the web. Thanks! May 3, 2021 at 2:57
  • Thanks @HoldToTheRod, much appreciated. I pray that everyone can learn the scripture and grow spiritually here together. May 3, 2021 at 12:30
  • @Daniel Deng Thanks for the interpretation.
    – Glenn
    Sep 2, 2021 at 13:56

Time of Jesus' crucifixion in relation to the Passover

Jesus' crucifixion happened in 33 AD, on April 3rd (Nissan 14), a Friday, at 3:00 pm (the 9th hour), the day before Passover, but not just any Passover, as it was actually a Great Passover.

NB - Great Passovers were always on a Saturday and never on any other day of the week. [Mark 14:12, relates to a week day Passover, the LAST SUPPER in actual fact].

According to some (but apparently not all) historical records, the Vernal Equinox, of 33 AD was on March the 20th (18;47 GMT, or 21:47 local time), with the New Moon actual sighting (Nissan 1) being right on time for the appropriate Full Moon of Saturday, April the 4th. And, if that wasn't all, the Full Moon not only became a Blood Moon but was preceded by a Total Solar Eclipse (some 2 weeks previously--though the eclipse wasn't total in Jerusalem) and accompanied by an Earthquake. All in all, an unmistakable marking of prophetic time.

I can hear the "naysayers" already: But, by most all accounts, Jesus' ministry commenced in 27 AD, in the 15th year of Tiberius, so how could he have died in 33 AD ??

Tiberius Caesar, was inaugurated in 14 AD, regardless of the apparent fact that he was co-regent with his ailing father for two years prior...

           Year 1  09/18/14 to 09/17/15
           Year 15 09/18/28 to 09/17/29

When Luke talks about the 15th year of Tiberius, he is talking, 28 AD/29 AD. John the Baptist, started preaching in the Spring of 29 AD, in the same year of Jesus' baptism (the actual time of the commencement of Jesus' ministry), with Jesus being baptized in the Fall of 29 AD, and then crucified (3 and a 1/2 years later), in the Spring of 33 AD.

[A certain chronologist by the name of Rainer Riener suggested that 12 AD should be considered as the start of Tiberius' rule. His suggestion, however, is considered less likely, as all the major Roman historians who calculated the years of Tiberius' rule - namely Tacitus, Suetonius and Cassius Dio - counted from 14 AD, the year of Augustus' death. In addition, coin evidence shows that Tiberius started to reign in 14 AD]

Passover from Ex.12 culminating in John 19:14 - 37

Ex. 12:6, NASB, Passover lamb to be killed at *twilight (after sunset but before darkness), on Nissan 14...

*Note from Ryrie Study Bible...twilight, considered between sunset and nightfall (about 6 - 7pm), or between the sun's decline and sunset (about 3 - 5pm).

... to be eaten (after roasting) that same night and with "Unleavened Bread" and bitter herbs....it is the LORD'S PASSOVER - Ex. 12:11 [First day from twilight on Nissan 14 to twilight on Nissan 15, first day to be a holy assembly, as must be the seventh day of "Unleavened Bread", i.e. Nissan 15 thru Nissan 21]

Matt, 26:2, Jesus to his disciples... "You know that after two days (said on the Wednesday) the Passover is coming, and the "Son of Man" is to be delivered up for CRUCIFIXION" [two days from Wednesday would be Nissan 14, Friday, the evening of which would commence Nissan 15]

Matt, 26:17 (similarly in Mark and Luke) - Now on the first day of "Unleavened Bread" the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?" [on the eve of Nissan 13 (Thursday), but start of Nissan 14, the following daylight hours to be the Friday].

So here we are in the "twilight" of Thursday evening (start of Nissan 14) witnessing the LAST SUPPER, which would suggest that the "UB" started on Thursday evening, albeit start of Nissan 14 and therefore not Nissan 15. Some 21 - 24 hours later (6 - 7pm, or 3 - 5pm), Jesus is dead.

John 19:14 - Here Jesus is before Pilate, during the daylight hours of Friday, Nissan 14 (after the previous evening's LAST SUPPER), "Preparation Day", for the following day's Sabbath, Nissan 15, which of course would begin that Friday evening.

So we have a Passover meal on Thursday eve, instigated by Jesus himself and then the "traditional" Passover meal on Friday eve, and Jesus is crucified in between the two.


In the HCSB(LESB), on Page 92, we have Dr. Gene A Getz', Principle to live by #12 - Christ the Passover Lamb, and quote:

When God instructed the children of Israel to sacrifice a perfect lamb and mark their doors with blood (Ex. 12:22), he introduced the world to an event that vividly portrays Christ's death on the cross.

Centuries later, when John the Baptist saw Jesus, he said, "Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (Jn. 1:29). Later, Paul identified Jesus Christ as "our Passover" who "has been sacrificed" (1 Co. 5:7). Peter also captured the connection between the tenth plague and the death of Christ:

For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. (1 Pt. 1:18-19)

The Lord Jesus Christ became our Passover lamb. When we sincerely accept him as our personal Savior, "the blood of Jesus...cleanses us from all sin" (1 Jn. 1:7)... end quote.

  • Thanks for your response. I think it is debatable what year Jesus' crucifixion happened in, but if the Passover was on a Saturday, then the Friday would be the day before the first day of the Feast of Unleaven bread. I assume you don't think the Mark 14:12 account is compatible with a 33AD crucifixion date and is therefore incorrect.
    – Glenn
    Dec 21, 2020 at 18:16
  • @Glenn - You will find that a lot is explained in the following link: ncregister.com/blog/… Dec 22, 2020 at 0:31
  • Thanks for the link, but there seem a couple of problems with it. Clue #4 seems to ignore that not only the weekly sabbath had a traditional day of preparation, but also the Passover, the day before the Feast of the Unleaven Bread starts, when leaven bread is removed from the home. Clue #5 seems to ignore that in 34AD the 14th would have fallen on the same day as the Spring Equinox which led Isaac Newton to believe the previous year would have been a leap year, and the 14th would have instead been on Thursday 22nd April.
    – Glenn
    Dec 22, 2020 at 1:21
  • I appreciate that I was wrong to assume that you were thinking that Mark 14:12 was incompatible with a 33AD date though, as the article mentions an alternative which seems to be that either Jesus didn't observe the Passover meal on the correct date, or that he did, and that the Priests were eating it on the incorrect date.
    – Glenn
    Dec 22, 2020 at 1:42
  • @Glenn - Firstly, I guess Clue #4 ignores the other day of preparation because of being immaterial. The Friday before the (great) Sabbath is the only prep day to be focused on. Secondly, You raise a good point re clue #5, Nissan 1 would have been way too early for the barley if Nisan 14 fell on the Spring equinox, so Sir Isaac was probably right. But, it's "by the way" for the sake of argument here. Is it not?? We have to be talking about a Friday, after all. April 3rd of 33 AD, just has to be the date, if only for all the other reasons I brought up. Dec 22, 2020 at 5:56

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